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Leah's Secret 'the one' for Pletcher in Handicap
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/29/2008 12:31 PM

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Todd Pletcher watched Arlington Park's $144,500 Chicago Handicap via a television monitor at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon.

The prominent national thoroughbred trainer had to keep an eye on three of his starters in the Grade III 7-furlong stakes event for fillies and mares.

At the finish line, all eyes were on Pletcher's Leah's Secret, the 8-5 favorite who received a characteristic well-timed ride from Rene Douglas to win by three quarters of a length over Tequilas Dayjur and rider Tracy Hebert.

Pletcher's Mini Sermon ran seventh, and his Featherbed was ninth.

"The plan was for a three-way dead heat," said a smiling Mike Dilger, Pletcher's assistant who looks after the 46-horse local stable. "Unfortunately, Featherbed got caught in a speed duel and Mini Sermon wasn't quick enough today."

Pro Pink was quickest to the half-mile pole.

The 33-1 longshot was guided to a half-length lead by Eduardo Perez before Hebert charged past at the top of the stretch with Tequilas Dayjur.

Douglas kept Leah's Secret in the middle of the pack, biding time before he altered course and got the 5-year old up in time for her first win since 2006.

Just a month ago in the Grade III Arlinton Matron, Leah's Secret was second by a half length to 4-year-old filly Indescribable, who was sent off the second favorite Saturday and placed sixth.

So what was the difference this time?

"Seven furlongs as opposed to a mile and an eighth," Dilger said without hesitation. "Rene did a good job. He had her right where she had to be."

"She likes the 7-furlong distance, but she can go longer," said Douglas, a five-time Arlington champ who added 4 more wins Saturday. "I decided to sit chilly on her for as long as I could and everything went perfect. Mike did a great job getting her ready."

Dilger, a 30-year old native of Mullingar, Ireland, watched Leah's Secret win for the sixth time in 21 career starts while padding her career bankroll to more than $632,000.

The daughter of Tiger Ridge is owned by WinStar Farm's Bill Canser.